“I’m not really like a gun person,” artist Joe Deutch told Gallerist at Marlborough Chelsea last night. He was standing in front of an open metal briefcase holding a gun. “But there was no way for us to legally get it here and show it.”
The gun in the briefcase was fake, part of Mr. Deutch’s new exhibition, which opened last night. (He pronounces his name “deech.”) It presents video documentation, photographs, sculpture and ephemera from the performance work that Mr. Deutch has engaged in over the last eight years, the lynchpin of which was a notorious performance that he did in 2004 while a graduate student at UCLA. For that work he went before his classmates dressed in a suit and tie, removed a gun from a paper bag and held it in one hand, while with the other he held up a bullet and showed it to the class (and the camera: he was recording it). Then he loaded the bullet into the chamber with the flick of his hand and placed the gun up to his head. Then he pulled the trigger, which clicked, and lowered the gun, unhurt. He then walked into an adjacent hall, out of sight and set off a fire-cracker, which made the sound of a shot.